This vegan apple crumb cake is moist and fluffy and is topped with a pecan cinnamon streusel topping! It comes together in just 1 bowl with less than 10 ingredients.
This cake can easily be made gluten-free, refined sugar-free and nut-free, and is a reader favorite on Rainbow Nourishments.
Simple ingredients you'll need
Notes about the ingredients
Apple, grated very coarsely or chopped finely. Similar to carrot cake, grated apple imparts more flavor than apple chunks. I recommend using a sweeter variety such as fuji, gala or honeycrisp. If you prefer a more tart cake, use Granny Smith apples. The apples can be peeled or left unpeeled, depending on what texture you prefer!
Light brown sugar provides moisture and depth of flavor to this vegan apple crumble cake. You can use coconut sugar for a less sweet cake. Granulated sugar will work but your cake will have less flavor.
Dairy-free milk. I recommend using a higher-protein milk such as soy milk as it makes this cake more tender. However, any milk such as oat milk or almond milk will work!
Apple cider vinegar (optional). Acidic ingredients make cakes more tender and fluffy. Alternatively, you can use white vinegar or lemon juice.
Even though this apple crumb cake has no eggs, you don't need any special egg replacers!
The full list of ingredient quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Tips for preparing the cake batter
The vegan apple crumble cake comes together in one large bowl! All you need to do is:
- Whisk all the dry ingredients until combined.
- Add all the wet ingredients and fold until just combined. The batter should be pourable but thick and hold its shape.
- Keep the same bowl for the crumb topping because it saves you from washing extra dishes ;).
The cake batter is quite thick but don't worry, your final cake will not be dry! During baking, the moisture from the apples leaks into the cake and helps create a very moist cake.
How to prepare the crumb topping
Simply mix all the ingredients in a bowl until there are no chunks of flour or butter. I like using my fingertips as the butter melts slightly which helps bind all the ingredients.
I also included a healthier crumb topping that is refined sugar-free and oil-free (see the notes in the recipe card). The healthier version is crunchy and slightly chewy due to the liquid sweetener.
I also topped my vegan apple crumb cake with thinly sliced apples, inspired by the design of German Apfelkuchen. It's a quick and easy way to make a cake presentable! However, you can also top your cake with:
- Cubed apples. This makes the cake easier to slice!
- Shredded coconut
- Pecans or other nuts by themselves
The baked cake is beautiful as is. However, for a special touch, dust the top with powdered sugar or drizzle a simple icing on top. It will make your morning or afternoon coffee even more special!
Top tips to make a FLUFFY apple crumb cake
First, make sure your apple is NOT grated too finely otherwise can make your cake too moist! If your apple is very juicy, you may need to add more flour to your cake batter (details are in the notes of the recipe card below).
Second, I recommend using grams or the spoon and level method when measuring your ingredients!
Finally, make sure your oven is at the right temperature. If your oven is too hot, the top of your cake will burn quickly, and leave the middle uncooked. If your oven is too cold, your cake will be dense. I always recommend using an oven thermometer because many ovens (even new ones) don't operate at the right temperature!
Can I make this cake gluten-free?
I've tested this vegan apple crumb cake with a few combinations of gluten-free flour and it works well with:
- A high-quality 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 50% almond flour and 50% gluten-free all-purpose flour (my top recommendation) OR
- 50% almond flour and 50% fine white rice flour.
I recommend using my vegan apple muffins recipe instead. The ingredients are similar to this recipe but the recipe is designed for a 12-cup muffin pan.
Some delicious additions to the cake itself are:
- chopped walnuts or pecans
- ground ginger, cardamon, nutmeg or other warm spices
- a cinnamon sugar layer, for example from my pumpkin coffee cake recipe
Feel free to substitute half of the oil with melted vegan butter. Butter solidifies at room temperature so can often make a cake feel dry so, for the best results, I suggest using only half melted butter.
Feel free to use spelt or whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. Your cake will be denser than the original but still delicious! Coconut sugar is the best 1:1 replacement for brown sugar.
A few readers have successfully replaced the oil with unsweetened applesauce and dairy-free plain greek yogurt. However, I haven't tested them myself so can't vouch for results.
More vegan apple desserts
Vegan Apple Crumb Cake
Dry ingredients for the apple cake
Wet ingredients for the apple cake
Crumb topping (note 3)
- ⅓ cup (35g) pecans, chopped
- ¼ cup (30g) all-purpose plain flour, or gluten-free all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons (30g) vegan butter, spreadable butter or coconut oil, softened
- 2 tablespoons (25g) packed brown sugar, coconut sugar or regular sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 x (180g) medium-size apple, sliced thinly
To serve (optional)
- Note: I recommend using grams for this recipe, except for the smaller spoon measurements. Like all my recipes, this cake was tested using grams.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease or line an 8-inch (20 cm) springform or loose-bottom cake pan with parchment paper.
Make the vegan apple cake:
- Add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix until there are no lumps.
- Add all of the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix until just combined. The batter should be thick. Scoop or pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top with a spoon or spatula.
Prepare the crumb topping:
- Using the same bowl (or a smaller clean bowl), add all the ingredients for the topping. Mix with a spoon or your fingertips until combined. There shouldn't be any chunks of butter or flour.
Assemble and bake the cake:
- Arrange the thinly sliced apple on the top of the cake in 'fan' shapes or as desired. Sprinkle the crumble in the gaps on top of the cake.
- Bake the apple crumble cake for 55-60 minutes. If the crumble topping is browning too quickly, tent the cake pan with aluminum foil or cover the pan with an oven-safe plate. The cake is ready when you can insert a toothpick in the middle and there is no wet batter on it. The cake is very moist so a few crumbs on the toothpick are fine.
- Rest the cake in the cake pan for 10-15 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and allow it cool entirely on a cooling rack.
- If desired, dust the cake with powdered sugar or drizzle with a simple glaze (note 4). Enjoy with dairy-free yogurt, vegan ice cream or/and a cup of coffee.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day, in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- For a gluten-free vegan apple crumble cake, substitute the plain flour for a good quality 1:1 gluten-free flour OR 1 ½ cups (150g) almond flour and 1 cup (160g) gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- This cake will be too moist if you grate the apples too finely. Ideally, the grated apple shouldn't leak any juice. If your apple is extra juicy, use an extra 3 tablespoons (25g) of flour in the recipe.
- For a healthier crumble, use the same amount of pecans, flour and cinnamon but combine it with 1 tbsp of maple syrup (instead of the sugar and butter). Mix all ingredients until there are no pockets of flour or syrup then crumble the mixture on the cake.
- To make a simple glaze, mix 1 cup (100g) of powdered/icing sugar with 2-4 tablespoons of dairy-free milk until smooth. Add more sugar for a thicker glaze or more milk for a thinner glaze. Wait until the cake cools then drizzle the glaze on top.
This post and recipe was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2021 with a video, more detailed pictures and an easier crumb topping. The original healthier crumble is in the notes!
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